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Pollution and Protest in China: Environmental Mobilization in Context*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 June 2013

Yanhua Deng*
Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu.
Guobin Yang
University of Pennsylvania. Email:
Email: (corresponding author).


This article focuses on environmental controversy in a Chinese rural community. It shows that Chinese villagers may protest against anticipated pollution if the environmental threat is effectively framed. In the face of real and serious pollution, villagers may seek to redress environmental grievances by piggybacking on politically favourable issues. However, when the pollution is caused by fellow villagers, environmentally concerned villagers may remain silent owing to the constraints of community relations and economic dependency. These findings suggest that the relationship between pollution and protest is context-dependent.

Special Section on Dying for Development
Copyright © The China Quarterly 2013 

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The authors thank Anna Lora-Wainwright and Jennifer Holdaway for their helpful comments. Generous financial support was provided to the first author by the China National Social Sciences Foundation (project code 12CSH041) and the American Social Science Research Council's grant for collaborative research on environmnet and health in China.


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